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8 Sun-Devil Approved Things to Do

Soak up a little Southwestern spirit in Tempe, an under-the-radar town known as much for its year-round events as it is for Arizona State University. True Sun Devils know that Tempe rivals its bigger city neighbors like Phoenix and Scottsdale, offering locals, alums, and newcomers alike the opportunity to hike, shop, and wine and dine with the best of them, all without venturing far from Graduate Tempe. 

Though there are more things to do in Tempe than there are hours in the day, start with these eight Sun Devil-approved things to do, see, and eat.


Hayden Butte Preserve

Look out over the city from Hayden Butte Preserve, locally known as ‘A’ Mountain for the 60-foot, gold-painted “A” affixed to the hillside. It’s also partially located on the Arizona State University campus, so this hike is as Sun Devil as it gets. This quick, 0.7 mile scramble (one-way) leads up the hillside until you crest to see Tempe unfolding below you. 

Though the trail is largely paved, if you time it right you might just catch sight of some desert critters and even cacti in bloom.

Insider Tip

Start your day on the right foot with a hike to catch a stellar sunrise.

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Desert Botanical Gardens

See the desert in bloom at the Desert Botanical Gardens, located in nearby Phoenix. There’s always something new to discover at the Botanical Gardens, from desert flora you didn’t know existed to special events that’ll help you see the desert in a new light. 

Stroll along trails that showcase the different aspects of desert landscaping, glimpse views of surrounding mountains, and even put your imagination to the test in the all-new nature play space, Cactus Clubhouse. No matter how you explore, be sure your senses are on full alert so you don’t miss any of the vibrant desert sights or floral scents.

Insider Tip

Order the Green Chili Cheeseburger at Gertrude’s.

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Papago Park

Soak up wide open spaces and red butte formations at Papago Park, a favorite among Phoenix locals for getting outside. Though the most-traversed trail is the iconic Hole-in-the-Rock, there are countless ways to work up a sweat. Go for a stroll or even a trail run, play golf at the Papago Golf Course, or fish in the seven-acre lagoon. 

Hikes feature shorter 0.3 mile hikes as well as 2.3 mile stretches, each of which meander through the Sonoran Desert and even an interpretive nature trail. Other attractions include Governor Hunt’s Tomb, a white pyramid where Arizona’s first governor George P. Hunt was entombed in 1934.

Insider Tip

Catch a sunrise from the Hole-in-the-Rock.

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Tempe Farmers Market

Food tastes better when it’s grown in Arizona. Stop by the Tempe Farmers Market for a local twist on everything from coffee beans to meats, cheeses, and tamales. Colorful produce, smoothies, and more line the tables of the market, many of which feature some, if not all, locally-sourced ingredients. 

Cool down with espresso made from locally-roasted coffee beans. Fill up on homemade tamales. Sweeten your day with locally-made jams and jellies or really pack a punch with a freshly-baked brownie.

Insider Tip

Start your day off right with a Desert Palm smoothie!

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Pedal Haus Brewery

You can drink a cold one at several Pedal Haus brewery locations throughout Arizona, though their Tempe tap room may be one of the most exciting. Walk beneath a faded red cruiser hanging above the entrance before entering an airy taproom packed with casual picnic tables and lush green houseplants. 

Though the bright yellow walls and open floor plan may catch your eye, it’s actually the food and drink you should be paying attention to. Sip quality classics like American Pale Ales or IPAs, or opt for more unique brews like Sourgaarten Blue Raspberry. Don’t let the beer steal the show, though, as their pub burgers, sandwiches, and full entrees like beer can chicken make the perfect pair for anything on tap.

Insider Tip

Don’t miss their Friday Happy Hour specials. It’s 11am-6:30pm, so make a whole day of it.

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House of Tricks

If you knew only the name, you might think House of Tricks is a joke shop or comedy venue. But it’s actually a beloved fine-dining restaurant that takes its name from the owners: Robert and Robin Trick. They’ve racked up awards for their elevated cuisine, but more importantly, they’ve satisfied the stomachs of generations of Arizonians. 

Dig into bright salads, inventive starters like harissa mussels and baked burrata, and flavorful entrees like balsamic glazed bacon-bison meatloaf and maple-peach glazed duck breast. Though you’ll be hard-pressed to look away from your plate, at least look up long enough to take in the quaint eatery—the dining room is set within a cozy 1920’s cottage.

Insider Tip

Save room for dessert and order the Salted Caramel Apple Bread Pudding.

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Snooze, A.M. Eatery

Breakfast is always on the brain at Snooze, A.M. Eatery. But even though they serve up countless breakfast and brunch classics, these aren’t your grandma’s pancakes. Their creative takes on breakfast’s best sweet and savory dishes include breakfast pot pie, three different types of French toast (can you say mascarpone-stuffed brioche?), and flavorful pancakes as big as your face. 

Channel a little of your own imagination with their smattering of topping and filling enhancements like faux meat, green chile, and lox. Just don’t let your eyes be bigger than your stomach as you’ll want to save room for a hot cup of coffee and a delightful brunch cocktail.

Insider Tip

Can’t decide on just one flavor? Order the Pancake flight – with extra syrup of course. 

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ASU Art Museum

With a belly full of Snooze, head to the eclectic ASU Art Museum, located right on campus and just half a mile from Graduate Tempe. Though they’re only open on weekends, the limited hours only add to the museum’s mystique. Their exhibits transform with the season, though each one challenges viewers to question their perspective on the world around them, whether that’s the magic of the human body or commentary on boredom. 

If no exhibits strike your fancy, peruse the museum’s collection of 12,000 objects spanning countries, cultures, and generations. Immerse yourself in contemporary crafts, historic art, and works from the Latinx and Latin American communities.

Insider Tip

They’re only open Friday-Sunday, but admission is always free.

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